Bringing Down the House - the Beach Theater's Final Curtain

Posted 9/27/11

Cape May, NJ — No one can say the lady went easily.

It took years of fighting and fundraisers, hundreds of lawyers' hours and meetings before the Beach Theater finally brought down the house for good.

On a very gray September day, two hulking Caterpillars clawed their way through the old bricks and iron, taking down Cape May's only movie theater, block by block.

Occasionally an entire wall would crumble.

It was a tedious process, much like the fight to try to save the place.

Not many were on hand to see the historic moment.

Bernie Haas, part of the group that tried to save the Beach Theater, was being interviewed by a local TV crew.

A couple of bystanders stood on the sidelines.

But mostly, this demolition was happening with few witnesses.

Eventually, the old fire door was all that was left of the southwest corner of the building. A construction worker gently tried to pry it loose.

It was the door with the dimly lit exit sign that stood silently through almost 60 years of motion pictures, starting with Father of the Bride in 1950. The Spencer Tracey version.

What comes next? In Cape May, empty space doesn't last very long.

Originally, the owner, Franks Theaters, had received approval to build seaside condos on the spot. But the market has chilled since then.

Now there's talk of a possible hotel. It is indeed a prime spot, right across from the new Convention Hall.

One thing's for sure - after more than 60 years, there will no longer be a movie theater on Beach Ave.


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